At the end of every year, I ask dealmakers to forecast the next 12 months. Except in rare cases (such as 2008, when Wall Street was reeling from the collapse of Lehman Brothers), most investors inevitably predict the next year will be better. Dealmakers today are no different. Mergers & Acquisitions recently polled PE investors, corporate buyers, investment bankers, attorneys and other M&A advisers to gauge their predictions for 2014.

A whopping 71 percent of survey participants said M&A will improve. The industries they identified as having the most potential for growth were health care, technology, energy and manufacturing -- four of the six sectors we highlight in our cover story.

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